The Northern States Governors’ Forum was on Tuesday condemned over its silence on the killings, which took place in Southern Kaduna a few hours before it met in Kaduna State on Monday.
Groups, including the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Middle Belt Forum and civil rights organisations, in separate interviews with The PUNCH, described the forum’s silence on the killings in Kaduna State as insensitive.
The organisations said this as the death toll in the bandits’ attack on Southern Kaduna increased to 51 on Tuesday with the recovery of three more corpses.
The NSGF had in a communiqué issued after at its meeting on Monday berated southern governors for insisting that the presidency should shift to the South in 2023.
The northern governors also faulted moves by Lagos and Rivers states to collect the Value Added Tax.
How could govs meet in Kaduna and silent on killing of 48 people, says SOKAPU
Between Sunday and Monday, no fewer than 48 people were killed by bandits in Zango Kataf and Kaura local government areas of Kaduna State within 24 hours of unrestricted bloody violence.
Commenting on the governors communiqué’s silence on the killings and their preoccupation with the 2023 presidency and the Value Added Tax, the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union spokesman, Luka Binniyat, carpeted the governors, saying they were “still in yoke with the obsolete mentality of one North.”
He specifically knocked the governors from the Middle Belt whom he described as “mere pawns to be used to further the interest of the core North.”
Binniyat said, “SOKAPU sees the Northern State Governors Forum as nothing other than an assembly of governors from the former Northern Region (today’s 19 northern states) who are still yoked in with the obsolete mentality of one North.”
“Unfortunately for governors of the Middle Belt states among them, who do not have the courage, wisdom and vision to pull out and form a “Middle Belt Governors’ Forum like their counterparts in other parts of the country, the agenda of every meeting of the NGF always proves that they are mere pawns to be used to further the interest of the core North.
“If not so, how could a meeting of the NSGF take place in Kaduna State where at least 48 persons were murdered on Sunday in cold blood in the Christian Southern Kaduna, and nothing was mentioned of it?
“Was it not the same NSGF that made so much fuss over the killing of 22 Fulani commuters in Jos recently and threatened fire and brimstone because the Fulani were alleged to have been killed by Christians?
“Are the 48 Christian women and children killed in their homes in Madamai and Adum villages in the Kaura LGA in Southern Kaduna not supposed to raise emotions of the so-called NSGF to elicit even a mention in their meeting?
“But, the lives of non-Hausa-Fulani natives of an enclave they claim as part of their North do not qualify to be that of humans.
“SOKAPU condemns such cold, snobbish and inhuman attitudes of these governors to the latest tragedy that hit us.
“Kaduna State cannot be used as ground for bickering over power sharing while the citizens of the states are being massacred as selfish and unfeeling governors meet while we are deeply mourning.
“We reject membership of such a body. We do not identify with those who don’t care about us.”
He also condemned the role played by the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong.
“He (Lalong) seems to carry his curious role as Chairman of the NSGF not caring whether he is being used or not. He does not seem to bother about the opinion of our Plateau neighbours who are openly embarrassed and miffed by his poster face of anti-Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria.
“Southern Kaduna and Plateau State do not only share a very wide physical boundary, we have had centuries of inter-communal relationship and share almost the same problems of insecurity and mass murder of our people. Yet he did not have the courage of calling the attention of his colleagues to the ongoing genocide that took place less than 24hours before their meeting.”
The National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu, stated this in an interview with The PUNCH in Jos on Tuesday.
He stated, “Before, it was only Boko Haram in the North-East and a few other places, But today, insecurity has covered the whole country with additional problems of banditry and kidnapping and a lot of people are being killed like rats on a daily basis under the watch of a northern government.”
Instead of addressing banditry, govs busy strategising on retaining power – Ohanaeze
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said that if retaining Presidency was a panacea to people’s problems, the North would have become the Netherlands of Africa.
Ohanaeze Publicity Secretary Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who spoke to one of our correspondents on Tuesday, said the North had produced Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Shehu Shagari, Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, Abdulsalam Abubakar, Musa Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari, yet its problems were on the increase.
He stated, “It is most regrettable that the Northern leaders are undisturbed that Nigeria is fast collapsing under their leadership. The forum fails to recognise that at the moment, Nigeria is confronted with the most precarious omens full of uncertainty, doubts, insecurity and bloodshed.
“The Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, Governor Simon Lalong can attest that the people of Plateau State have never in history witnessed the number of deaths that has taken place under his watch as governor. The banditry in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna and Jigawa states is terrifying. Benue State has turned into a killing field. The states of Yobe and Borno are worst hit by the menace of Boko Haram.
“Several schools in the North cannot open because of kidnappers and millions of children are on the street as beggars. The Nigerian currency has lost its value. Unemployment has skyrocketed; and Nigeria has become the poverty capital of the world and the northern governors, the Sultan and the Emirs instead of seeking solution to Nigerian problems were busy strategising on how to retain power in 2023. This is most unconscionable, to say the least.”
In a related development, Ohanaeze also express disappointment over “the unholy manoeuvre and alliances by the members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party to zone the presidential seat for the 2023 general election to the Northern Nigeria.”
The pan-northern organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, through it National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe, told The PUNCH that the northern body never supported the killing of innocent souls.
Although the ACF’s spokesman was silent when asked to comment on the attitude of the governors to the killings in Southern Kaduna, he said, “We have never supported the killing of innocent people anywhere in the world. We condemn this in all its ramifications. Human life is a gift from God. It is sacred and nobody has the right to take another man’s life on the basis of politics, religion, region or ethnicity. This is the stand of ACF, yesterday, today and tomorrow.”
On his part, the President of the Initiative for Global Change, David Owaboye, said discussions at the meeting were surprising considering what the Northern region was facing.
He said, “I am surprised at their positions. Your house is on fire and that is all you could discuss? There are many burning issues, especially insecurity which has dragged them back.
“As we speak, the region is lagging behind on the development ladder as compared to their counterparts in other regions. The truth of the matter is that retaining power is more important to them than any matter at this point in time.”
The Coordinator of Advocate for Peoples Rights and Justice, Victor Giwa, said, “It is within their rights constitutionally to express their position, however, with the serious problems in the North, they should be preoccupied with ensuring protection of lives and properties.”
The Convener of Centre for Liberty, Dare Ariyo-Atoye, said the fact that northern governors did not raise the issue of the dead people in Southern Kaduna showed where their priorities were.
“It only shows where their priorities lie. You went to a state and in that state, you heard that some people were killed and then the most important thing on the agenda was about how power would be retained to the North or wherever.”